Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, Ontario, Canada — February 22, 2020
Casual hockey fans may not know that the NHL requires home teams to have an emergency goalie on hand at each game in the event that both goalies for either team playing are injured an unable to continue. The emergency backup is then called upon to fill in and could end up playing for either team depending on the circumstances.
Such an event occurred in Toronto during Saturday evening’s game between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Early in the first period, Hurricanes’ goalie James Reimer was injured in a collision with his teammate Jaccob Slavin who was pushed into the Canes net by Toronto’s Zach Hyman.
Exit Reimer and enter backup goalie Petr Mrázek. Midway through the 2nd period Mrazek left the crease to play the puck in the faceoff circle, he collided with Leafs’ forward Kyle Clifford and suffered an upper-body injury.
Out goes Mrázek and in his place comes Maple Leafs’ emergency goalie 42-year-old Dave Ayres wearing Carolina sweater #90. With the score 4-1 when Ayres took over in net the Hurricanes faced 28 minutes of game time left to protect a rookie in goal.
Prior to making his NHL debut, Ayres stepped into the goal as an emergency backup for the Leafs’ AHL affiliate Toronto Marlies on February 1. He also is the Marlies practice goalie and Zamboni driver. He skates occasionally with the Maple Leafs as a practice goalie also.
An interesting aside to the story is that Ayres is a kidney transplant survivor. His mother donated a kidney to save his life 15 years ago. Ayres debut also came on the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Hockey teams “Miracle on Ice” victory over the Russian Olympic squad.
Ayers allowed two goals on his first two shots faced. Then the Cane defense stiffened and Ayers found his game, stopping eight shots the rest of the way Carolina scored twice and walked away with a 6-3 win under improbable circumstances.
For his brief moment in the spotlight, Ayres earned $500, a game puck, got to keep his game sweater with his name on it, and was named the number one star of the game.
According to the Raleigh News and Observer, David Ayres will be the guest of honor at Tuesday’s game against the Dallas Stars. He will sound the warning siren before the game. Raleigh mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin also announced that Tuesday would be declared “David Ayres Day” by official proclamation of the City of Raleigh.
Congrats David Ayres, how is that for a dream come true story.